Hydrochory (n): Biological dispersal by water
Our design proposal emerges from the movement of the river. It takes advantage of the dramatic shift of the tide cycle over the course of a day. The linear progression and variation of Earth’s lunar cycle spawns at the River Thames an organism adapted to its environment. Like the Siphonophora, which travels through the oceanic currents, this organism brings together, through the natural rhythm of ebbs and floods, the historic treasures of London, its visitors, and its citizens in the modern-day urban context of London, while constantly reconfiguring itself.
Starting with the idea of five floating vessels, one for each specific route, the architectural form arises from the study of the fluid dynamics of the River Thames to maximize the efficiency of its mobility. By mapping the fluctuation of pressure and speed of current caused by the River’s ebbs and floods, we determine the configuration and specific itinerary of the five vessels along the Thames. Each vessel follows its own itinerary and time schedule for each day of the year determined by tidal shift (approximately 5 hours 32 minutes per cycle). Precisely calculated based on the speed of current flow, each vessel embarks at specific significant sites along the River Thames and engages the contemporary urban context of everyday London as it flows through while momentarily altering and extending the riverbank condition into a gathering space provided by each vessel. The individual space within each “vessel” attracts visitors and Londoners from the River’s edge and carries them along an itinerary to different cultural sites in the City, generating a constant reinvention of cultural exchange.
Choreographed by the River’s current, the five vessels converge at points in time each day to form a new organism that resembles riparian flower, recognizable from afar and marking a locus in the River Thames for celebratory events as they come together to form a large gathering space in the center. After which the five vessels then disperse and continue their individual journeys.
The river ebbs and floods, moving forward and then ultimately reversing direction, impelling the vessels to complete the cycles of their respective journeys, which end where they started. Each cycle has a period of stillness (slack water) during the period of tidal equilibrium, which will be synchronized with the third and final movement of the gathering of the five vessels during each cycle.
Monocoque structures made of fiberglass, the five vessels rely on the renewable energy of the River’s current to travel along, passively controlled by an underwater cable for embarkation and safety control.
Over time this rhythmic process extends the concept of adaptable architecture, bringing together not only people and ideas, but channeling these mutable forms in harmony with the pulse of the Thames.
Raveevarn Choksombatchai, Jeremy Steiner, Robbie Crabtree
Hydro Chory, on line at Arquitectum—01/01/2008